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China condemns US criticism of web control
Beijing, Jan 22 (Agencies):
Published on 22 Jan. 2010 11:21 PM IST
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China has denounced US criticism of its internet controls, saying it could harm ties between the two countries. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Thursday for China to lift restrictions on the internet. Mrs Clinton also urged Beijing to investigate Google’s complaints that cyber attacks had originated in China. Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said the US should “respect the facts” and stop making “groundless accusations against China”. “The US has criticised China’s policies to administer the internet, and insinuated that China restricts internet freedom,” he said in a statement posted on the foreign ministry website. “This runs contrary to the facts and is harmful to China-US relations.” An article in the Communist Party’s Global Times English language news website called Mrs Clinton’s criticisms “information imperialism”. In a wide-ranging speech in Washington, Mrs Clinton said the internet had been a “source of tremendous progress” in China but that any country which restricted free access to information risked “walling themselves off from the progress of the next century”. She said that the US intended to address issues of internet freedom within its relationship with Beijing. She also called for tough action against people and states that carried out cyber attacks. Google said on 12 January that hackers had tried to infiltrate its software coding and the e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists, in a “highly sophisticated” attack that originated from China. When the California-based company launched in 2006, it agreed to censor some search results - such as the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, Tibetan independence or Falun Gong - as required by the Chinese government. Chinese officials have said repeatedly that Google and other foreign internet companies were welcome to operate within China as long as they obeyed the country’s laws and traditions. Mrs Clinton called on Chinese authorities to investigate the Google complaint of cyber attacks and to make the results available. She also urged companies operating in China, and elsewhere, to take a “principled stand” against censorship. “The private sector has a shared responsibility to safeguard free expression... this needs to be part of our national brand.” Mrs Clinton also singled out countries such as Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan as having boosted censorship or harassed bloggers. China’s state-controlled media have reacted angrily to the speech. The Global Times said: “The US campaign for uncensored and free flow of information on an unrestricted internet is a disguised attempt to impose its values on other cultures in the name of democracy.” Imbalances in the “global information order” favoured the West and so countries like China, which were disadvantaged in this order, needed to take steps “to protect their national interest”, the editorial said. “China’s real stake in the ‘free flow of information’ is evident in its refusal to be victimised by information imperialism.”

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